Huawei’s laptops have made a bit of a splash in recent years thanks to a combination of strong performance, design, and build quality.

But Huawei is a relative newcomer to the personal computer space, having introduced its first tablet in 2016 and its first laptop just a year later.

So with the company still dealing with the fallout of US trade policy generally as well as those targeted specifically at Huawei, it’s unsurprising to see Huawei looking for alternatives to US-based software. Huawei’s Harmony OS is coming to smart TVs and other devices (possibly including phones). And it looks like Huawei is already selling laptops with Linux software in China. There’s no word on whether the company plans to use Linux rather than Windows in other markets.

As noted by the folks at Tech Republic, Huawei is offering versions of three laptops running Deepin Linux at VMALL, a Chinese retail website:

That means Huawei has found a way to sell laptops that don’t run Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and it also means that Chinese customers who don’t want Windows (or plan to install it on their own), can save around $40 to $80 off the price of their laptops.

Deepin is a Debian-based Linux distribution designed in China, but available worldwide. While that’s led to some concerns over the possibility of security or privacy-invading software, Deepin is open source software and last I’d checked, nobody had found any malware or spyware in the code, although that doesn’t mean it isn’t there — just that nobody has spotted anything suspicious yet. The Deepin website and app store do use an analytics service though, if that’s something that concerns you.

All of which is to say that while it makes sense for Huawei to choose a Linux distribution that originates in China for laptops it sells to Chinese customers, I suspect that if and when we see Huawei Linux laptops in the west, they’d be more likely to run Ubuntu, Debian, or some other operating system.


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13 replies on “Huawei is selling Linux laptops in China”

  1. The 13 inch looks cool, but it costs $770 even without Windows. For that much, I’d rather buy a MacBook Air.

  2. I think an alternative to Windows is ReactOS. It is still being developed and I think they could help advance it. Since it is free and the source is downloadable, they could develop their own version. I think there is a Chinese section on the ReactOS forum.

    I am into OS/2-eCS-ArcaOS. this could be an alternative to Windows too.

    I think it is an interesting computer.

  3. great information… but this will be open? no blobs?
    no securiti holes?
    if shneider not testing it I dont bought it

  4. Huawei appears to make good products but then again it depends and generalizations are probably too broad. I say that for any company really, but in this case there is also the political environment needs to be considered. No, Huawei isnt listed on the list of state owned assets (SASAC), but what does that mean, what exactly are those relationships ? Then again what about other companies? Im not privy to that and there is just too much to know. Truth is every nation and large corporation is gonna spy and knowing those details what exactly and how much isnt really possible, it boils down to your life experience in trusting various groups and your feelings. Welcome to 2019. But why suddenly the powers that govern the West have their panties riding high up their crack about fears when its nothing new really, this trade relationship has been developing for decades and people were either asleep or just too greedy to care. Not as if China creeped up just yesterday on people totally unaware. At any rate overreaction and underreaction are like peas in a pod and probably both are misrepresenting the situation, I feel we are in over-reaction mode after years of under-reaction. Although Huawei has definitely entered new business sectors e.g. laptop and using Deepin of late ,and proliferative trends in tech tend to make exposure grow, so the requirements to process and analyze so its much the same as before its just more front and center. Yet plenty of non-China Western adversaries have their own Linux versions, like Turkey Russia etc imo these are no better/worse scarier, a foreign entity doing business amidst adversarial relations is just that. Relations tend to cycle thru good & bad and its not safe when its good and unsafe when its bad. Its that we just dont pay attention.

  5. I’m gonna’ skip the entire spyware issue since everyone is involved (dark times, indeed). I do love the cause & effect that has produced a modern laptop from a major vendor, capable of running distroX out of the box.

    I think the US should start banning more companies. Samsung, Asus, Acer, Lenovo… The more open source software, the better. Ironic that the closed source, secretive nature that evil relies on produced an open source, transparent solution (binary, closed blobs not included).

    It’s the last tidbit that has me a bit worried. Closed source drivers, firmware. But we might (slowly) be getting to true transparency on the devices we use.

  6. They’re well aesthetically designed to be sure, but lets not pretend that appearance is anywhere near original.
    As to the this and that spyware debate, the issue isn’t with their laptops, or even their handset hardware. Laptops with backdoors aren’t needed if a government wants to spy on someone (you know why the NSA PRISM is mostly web service providers? It’s easier to have a data contract with those businesses than to covertly backdoor every single device. And there’s always the social credit option to coerce you into using contracted service providers). The whole trade debacle is over proprietary network infrastructure, running proprietary software, that a huge chunk of the communications in the US would have to be going through. China could be the nicest country in the world and it would still be a bad idea on principle to let a foreign company from a place so influential make critical infrastructure like cell towers.
    And you know, there’s also the currency devaluation that makes it way cheaper than any of the competition can make it.

  7. Thats good news. I was hoping they would dump Windows for Linux. However I wish you would not spread these nefarious rumours about the supposed Chinese “Evil Empire” when we all have factual proof that the American NSA spies on everyone, including heads of state of their own allies. Of course all Sovreign States have their own Intelligence agencies but nothing like the USA. The NSA’s budget out surpasses all other countries combined! So please, stop adding fuel to the fire on these ridiculous, speculative rumours. As you said, it’s Open Source, and available for full and complete scrutiny….and you can be sure the NSA has already done their best to demonize it, and for now anyways, I’ve heard nothing.

    Huawei makes great laptops and knowing now that the hardware works with the Linux kernel means we can buy them and install the Linux distribution of our choice. Certainly if the price is right I would love to buy one!

    Thanks for the article and the news, keep up the good work…I’m just getting a little tired of all the Russiagate, ChinaGate, BS propoganda, that’s being spread through American and European media outlets in support of their government and corporate agendas.

    1. These machines look great, and obviously if they ship with Deepin anyone who wants to install another distro shouldn’t have any trouble with hardware support. I agree that people are being fed a line about Huawei being evil – the PRC isn’t going to spy on your personal emails. If you are a defense contractor, that might be different (or if you are in China itself…), but for ordinary Americans there’s no reason to panic.

      1. I’d beg to differ.
        Huawei isn’t a standalone company like Apple, Nokia, Sony, etc etc. They have deep ties to the Chinese government and have been found numerous times of stealing trade secrets, circumventing patent laws, and having security vulnerabilities. And this isn’t just from US, other European countries corroborate these findings.

        So yes, it is important to stay skeptical with these guys. While I think this product is fine, that doesn’t mean their other products and services are not. And this spying fiasco applies to all the “super powers” of USA, Russia, Iran, China, India, Brasil. Online I see equal number of people exaggerating the Huawei situation (misinformed/ignorant), and those as well that understate the situation (fanboys/shills)… neither is acceptable.

      2. Huawei machines are cheap, and have decent screens, but that’s about it. I’ve recently hashed a number of mirrored windows installers from open source projects, files from the chinese mirrors don’t have the right signature. You can be sure that the chinese root CA’s will be installed on these Huawei machines. When you have ca root authority, control all the name servers, most people won’t even realize they are not on the right site. I’ve recently came to realize the weakest link is in the update protocol of a lot of these windows based open source programs. They just pull from a ftp server.

        1. But these don’t ship with Windows? If someone was worried about the certs in Deepin they could just wipe and install Ubuntu? Again, I don’t particularly like being monitored (IF that’s happening) but people should be realistic – unless you’re a citizen of the PRC, what exactly do you think the implications are for you? Are they more serious than other governments inspecting your traffic, or Google, FB, or 100s of other companies trying to track and market to you?

    2. Mr. Heeney’s comment is a logcial fallacy of the Tu Quoque type. It is used by leftists routinely in the US media. It is essentially a way to avoid answering the question by putting it back on the questioner and changing the subject. It works a lot because the US media and academe never question its use on people they prefer to silence.

      The essense of the problem is that Huawei and Deepin Linux never declare that they are free of spyware. The US media claimed that Deepin Linux did but if you read there statement you see that they did not. Since China is now politically correct they can count on support by the people formerly known as journalists.

      In fact, in answer to whether or not they distributute spyware, Deepin responded by sayinjg that their analytics connection is no more intrusive than Google, which doesn’t answer the question. Google monetizes their analytics. Chinese law requires Deepin and Huawei to cooperte with Chinese security forces. Also, despite what the US Left argues, Chinese spying really is different than US spying. The Chinese spying is as an adversary stealing jobs and Intellectual property. The US doesn’t to that .Besides, it is our country and leftist logical fallacies would never be accepted in China or any other countyr.

      There are legitimate reasons ot question Chinese originated products. If they wanted to reassure their customers they could come right out and say that their prodcuct is spyware free. If they find spyware embedded in their software they will remove it and tell their coustomers. Easy, end of story .So my question is wny they don’t do this easy thing?.

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